Love and Dis-ease in Times of Pandemic

deadline for submissions: 
March 1, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Fu Jen Journal of Foreign Languages: Linguistics, Literature, and Culture
contact email: 

Fu Jen Journal of Foreign Languages: Linguistics, Literature, and Culture, vol. 17 (FJJFL 2021)

Call for Papers, Feature Topic:

Love and Dis-ease in Times of Pandemic

The current coronavirus pandemic is not only upending public health and economics on a global scale; it is also disrupting society, politics, and culture in profound but uncertain ways. The close contacts that customarily bind and mend human lives are suddenly conduits of disease and fear. The physical and psychological ruptures resulting from lockdowns and social distancing are intensified by ideological divides concerning these very policies as well as stark racial and economic disparities in rates of illness and death. At the same time, countless people have risked and even sacrificed their lives to treat the infected and provide essential services to their communities. Social relationships, education, and culture are reinventing themselves online, while passionate protests for human rights and racial equality are raising hopes for permanent structural change.

As the long-term effects of these upheavals continue to unfold globally, literature and the arts can offer context and guidance for engaging with this present time of pandemic. Boccaccio’s Decameron, Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, Mann’s Death in Venice, Camus’s The Plague, and García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera are among the landmarks in a Western literary field broadly agitated by the fear of invisible contagion. “Shakespeare lived his entire life in the shadow of the bubonic plague,” Stephen Greenblatt has recently observed, citing its recurrent presence in the plays,[i] and the masterful theatrical response to pandemic in our own time is Tony Kushner’s AIDS-era drama Angels in America. Philosophical reflections on epidemics have occupied thinkers from Lucretius to Susan Sontag. In the visual arts, while some works have answered pandemics with memento mori (the Danse Macabre genre, Bruegel’s The Triumph of Death), others like Tintoretto’s Saint Roch Cures the Plague Victims and the AIDS Memorial Quilt have delivered comfort and healing. Among all media, film has produced perhaps the most graphic images of global contagion in works such as The Seventh SealThe Invasion of the Body SnatchersThe Andromeda StrainContagion, and many more.

Reflecting on literature and the arts in the context of pandemics raises timely questions. What roles have literature and the arts played during pandemics, and how have they imagined worlds of contagion and disease within their generic borders? What do creative or theoretical works reveal about the risks of social division and the countercurrents of human connection, or even love, in the midst of infectious diseases? How do literature and culture connect love and dis-ease, or oppose one to the other, in times of pandemic? Metaphorically, how do tropes of viral contagion reflect on other states of dis-ease, whether social, political, or ethical (e.g., racism, violence, destructive online content)? In the Anthropocene, is human civilization itself a kind of virus, of which literal pandemics are but one manifestation, and if so, how should we reconceive our relationships to the environment and to one another?

This feature topic section seeks articles that explore the social, political, cultural, and intellectual ramifications of pandemics and contagion as reflected in literary and artistic works of any genre or medium and in any culture or historical period. Possible issues to explore include:

Pandemics and the literary imagination

Love and solidarity in the context of pandemics

Psychological and emotional dis-ease in the context of pandemics

Conjunctions and disjunctions across social distance

Representations of contagion or other “invisible enemies”

Pandemics as metaphors

Pandemics, ethics, and religious thought

Pandemics and the global imaginary

Infection, possession, invasion

Pandemics and colonialism

Contagion, futurity, and (post-)humanism

Articles for the feature topic section should be written in English or Chinese. Submission deadline: 03/01/2021. Please refer to the FJJFL website for details on submission requirements: http://cfl.fju.edu.tw/fjjfl/submission03_e.asp    

Submissions and inquiries should be sent to Joseph C. Murphy, Email: fujenstudies@gmail.com


[i] Stephen Greenblatt, “What Shakespeare Actually Wrote about the Plague.” The New Yorker, 7 May 2020, www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/what-shakespeare-actually-wro....